Alas with those few words, spoken by the woman with the baby to whom we had offered a seat on the bus, we were seduced into a small culinary adventure that to be fair brought us much amusement with each re-telling but not much sustenance at the time of suffering.
I am not going to identify the taverna, I would be very much surprised if it was still in business, if you read this there are enough indications of where it is. Go on, live life on the edge, if you think you know where it is give it a try.
We thought it would be nice to eat somewhere else for a change; having sampled most of the delights of Massouri we felt brave and indestructible, time to venture further afield.
A chance meeting, caused by English politeness and foreign indifference, with the new owner of an eating establishment just north of Massouri, encouraged us to venture out from our comfort zone into the unknown, a bit like climbing really although eating in dodgy establishments is far riskier.
In our lust for adventure we ignored all the common sense rules that apply to eating out.
On approaching the establishment (near to a hotel much frequented by climbing groups just beneath the most popular crag whose name begins with the letter O) we noticed that A): the lights were not turned on and B): there were no patrons.
Ignoring the obvious signs that no one else chose to eat at this place we sallied forth up the stairs (another clue) into the gloom. Chef, wife and child were ensconced behind the deserted bar.
On enquiring if they were actually open, in truth they looked as surprised as us, we were assured they were; although they did look a bit startled at the presence of customers.
Lights were turned on and a farcical pantomime concerning the choice of table took place.
Confronted by a sea of empty covers we had the same difficulty encountered in supermarkets, where you just want one simple thing but are faced with thousands of choices, however after a bit of English dithering and politeness we managed to select a prime spot before the crowds arrived.
The menu was quite surprising. Unlike all the other eating establishments on the island which offer pretty much the same fare this one was populated by unrecognisable combinations. By now alarm bells were finally ringing so in a practical survivalist approach to living we enquired what was the chefs favourite meal.
Having listened to an incomprehensible reply that involved the words chicken, orange and rice we felt vaguely reassured and being sensible cowards we all ordered the same thing.
‘The Thing’ when it arrived had a startlingly orange appearance. In all honesty it looked as though the ‘Usband’ had nipped around the back and got the local dogs to vomit onto our plates. Being the nice people that we are (and we never judging books by their covers) we all expressed our admiration of what lay before us. Clearly we are consummate liars and the lady of the establishment was considerably more deluded than we realised as I think she believed us.
In defence of the food, but not the chef, it was edible and I have to admit astonishingly original in that it bore no resemblance to anything I had ever eaten before in my entire life. It also tasted like nothing I had ever tasted before and I have no wish to repeat the experiment any time soon. It didn’t poison us but it did give us a scare.
We all agreed it was our collective fault in ignoring the international rules of eating out. If a place is empty and all the surrounding eateries are full, the one that has no customers is empty for a reason.
And now we knew.
The coda to this small adventure was that instead of complaining (Gordon Ramsay style) to the young woman who obviously loved her marvellous chef of a husband so much that she couldn’t see his shortcomings we felt sorry for her and her delusions. So what did we do?
Well we eschewed the offer of desert on the grounds that nothing could better what we had just had and we left her with a large tip, insisting she spent it on her young baby who was soon to be homeless, although she didn’t know that at the time.